Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Marketing with No Money

Jason Alba of Jibber Jabber an online executive recruiting firm, gave the best talk I’ve ever seen on social media marketing. He was fired from his job a couple of years ago and launched this company, authored the book I’m on LinkedIn – Now What? and is finishing a second book on Facebook.

Despite his rambling, self-deprecating style Alba is very smart. He lives in Utah and built a nationally known company by sitting behind his computer.

And he did it without spending any money on marketing. Bravo Jason.

Here are four ways that Jason marketed his business without spending a dime:

1. Built His Network

As an executive recruiter network building and relationship management is Alba's specialty. He says the idea behind social media marketing is to create a network of evangelists – people who love you – people who will recommend you – people who will say great things about you.

Research says people have to see your brand at least 7X before they recognize it. So the strategy should be based on getting it in front of them in the most ways possible.

Alba's social media network includes Multiple Blogs – LinkedIn – Company Newsletter – Facebook – Communities/Groups – Twitter – Books - Articles

Your network should be built carefully and nurtured. It’s the guts of your business.

Alba recommends using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to track all of your contacts, many of whom are in different parts of the social networking sphere.

Segment your contacts and send information out to them regularly both by putting it in their in-box and having them come to you.

2. Used Email as a Branding Tool

You want buzz – people talking about you so you should generate interest in every way you connect with people. One place people forget to pitch their brand is in their email signature which should be used as a billboard for your company.

Figure out what message you are sending with it now (Do you have one?) and if not add one that distills your sales message into a sentence. Mine is now “Sharing health and science with everyone.” It’s not perfect but at least it says what I do.

Remember you can also paste your email signature into messages to communities, your LinkedIn, Facebook and other networks, and other places where you answer questions or participate in the discussion.

3. Got His Name Out There All the Time

Brag – Make a video, PowerPoint or slide show about your business. The presentation can go up on your LinkedIn page, your web site, and on other venues like Facebook. It will humanize your business and let everyone quickly get what you do and what your edge is.

Join groups – Alba says he’s found Yahoo Groups most active. The community groups are better because they are centered around a specific topic. The PR value of having someone post a positive experience with your business is priceless.

You can also give webinars that will make you sound smart and help others understand how smart you are.

Alba says at last count he had 7 blogs – some of which are written by others. He’s a devotee of blogging every day so people see your name in front of them every day. I have three blogs and strive for once a week. There’s only so much a busy entrepreneur can do.

He also regularly leaves comments on other's blogs and has built a network of links from his blogs to others.

3. Focused on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Alba’s growth strategy is blogging to build links and traffic to his site, other blogs, pages, etc. He started by developing a network of bloggers he could have relationships with – those who would link him, mention him or write an entire post about him. He always makes them aware of new and enticing posts. A recent one that got major attention: Depression in the Job Search.

Of course it’s great to be covered by the mega bloggers but getting their attention can be very hard. So start by building a large network of people who each have tiny audiences or you can start your own community and invite others to join.

(This is from me - many industries that I work with have online lists of the top 100 or 200 blogs in their area of expertise. The lists include names, contact information, etc. It's a great way to find out who's talking about your client's business - what they are saying - how they position themselves - and get a free up-to-date media list).

Twitter is also a great way to promote your blog - you have to strike a balance between too much tweeting your own horn and what works but once you find it - it's a great way to build readership.

You have to give your blog readers the ability to sign up and receive your blog via email – it gets your message in front of them if they don’t come to you.

4. Lead the Conversation

Alba says if you want to build your company then write a book. These days anyone can author a book and e-publish it. If you write a book about what you do, with a compelling title and smart advice people can learn from and it will help your business a lot.

Why? One reason is that most media programs – TV in particular – like authors. They can hold the book up in front of their audience. It makes them look smart to have read your book. And everyone sells more books.

If you write an e-book use online video, web sites, blogs, news programs, etc. that will link back to your book. An e-book can really help your clients understand what you do and how you do it well, as can white papers.

Should you charge for the e-book? Probaby not for the first one.

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